Conflict Level

Both parties are poisoned by anger and insulted by the treatment they are receiving. They also feel insecure and off balance, which brings out their worst. There may even be physical fighting and the relationship may feel raw and numb. Communication is difficult and usually makes things worse. A jump in the level of understanding brings hope, patience and temporary peace.

Coping Level

The good news at this level is that the fights can be kept under control. The bad news: maintaining control is a full time job. The relationship feels unpleasant and strained, burdened by judgments and expectations. Surprisingly, feelings of superiority and guilt often occur simultaneously. Partners find themselves worn out from the constant demands of “handling” the relationship. Communications are strained and warm feelings are scarce. A jump in the level of understanding helps develop compassion and goodwill.

Cooperation Level

Planning, coordination and compatibility are achievable at this level because goodwill is present. Both parties trust the good intentions of the other and view counterproductive behavior as innocent and fueled by insecurity. They give each other the benefit of the doubt. Where incompatibility and lack of alignment exist, good communication and mutual support fill the gap. A jump in the level of understanding here provides greater faith and trust.

Synergy Level

Problems, stresses and incompatibilities don’t even appear at this level. Individual differences are buffered by feelings of appreciation, respect and gratitude. Being together energizes the parties. They talk less and share more positive feelings. This level brings out the best in everybody. A jump in the level of understanding brings even deeper feelings.

Soul Mates

You carry the other person in your heart at this level. The couple feels strong kinship and intimacy as friends, lovers, working partners or family. They want to spend as much time together as possible. Their shared moments have a timeless quality – a little bit goes a long way. A jump in the level of understanding leads to even more depth of feeling.

From George Pransky – The Relationship Handbook (1992)